Sweet Brown Bread

This sweet brown bread is currently the most requested bread for sandwiches in my household. That’s because it’s a partial whole wheat bread, but yet it’s soft and a little sweet.

NOTE: For those of you thinking, “I love bread, but it fails every time,” I’m going to pass on a gift. Because once upon a time, I had the same thoughts.

a loaf of sweet brown bread on a cutting board with two slices, knife, and napkin.

Please try Jim Lahey’s No-Knead bread before you give up entirely.

Origin of the recipe

A few months ago, a baking friend passed along a copycat recipe for the sweet brown bread from the Outback Steakhouse. I’m told it’s also similar to the Cheesecake Factory bread recipe.

It met with rave reviews and someone’s fond memories. It was just a little too sweet and soft for my taste. So here’s a slightly more healthy brown bread recipe.

Tips and tricks

Unless you’re in a hurry (e.g. you’re a contestant on the Great British Bake Off), you can use less yeast and allow for longer rising times. You should definitely do this if you are making a loaf of only flour, yeast, and salt.

This sandwich bread has three rising stages. In the first, half of the yeast is mixed with a cup of whole wheat flour, coffee granules, cocoa, honey, and water (Panel #1, below). The remaining flour and yeast is added (Panel #2), and you let it sit until it starts to bubble through (Panel #3).

four panels steps in making this sweet brown bread.

Next, you mix and knead the dough and shape into a round for the second rise (Panel #4 abve). If you use a mixer, make sure you switch to the hook once your dough has come together or you run the risk of burning out your motor.

You can obviously knead the dough by hand instead of in the mixer. I’m too lazy for that.

Let it rise until it has doubled in size. Then shape it into a loaf and let it rise for the third and final time in a loaf pan.

Here’s a great video showing how to shape loaf bread: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx5I5O_RoeI

a loaf of brown bread rising in the pan.

Basic yeast breads are done when the internal temperature reaches 190F, enriched breads at 200F. They should make a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.


Make a spiral loaf! Make half of the dough without cocoa and coffee powder, and use black cocoa in the other half. After the second rise, roll out the two doughs, spiral them together, and let them rise in the pan for their third rise.

slices of a black and white spiral bread.

Related recipes

Check out other breads for sandwiches like this Portuguese sweet bread recipe or this orange raisin challah.

Sweet Brown Bread

5 from 1 vote
Category: Bread
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Rising times: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours
Servings: 20 slices
Calories: 82kcal
This sweet brown bread recipe is a partial whole wheat bread, but yet it's soft and a little sweet.
Print Recipe


  • Stand mixer



  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespooons unsweetened cocoa powder or instant coffee for color
  • ¾ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup lukewarm water


  • 2 cup bread flour up to 2½ cup
  • ¾ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Make the sponge: by hand, combine whole wheat flour, ¾ teaspoon yeast, honey, and water in the bowl of your mixer.
    1 cup whole wheat flour, 2 tablespooons unsweetened cocoa powder or instant coffee, ¾ teaspoons instant yeast, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 cup lukewarm water
  • Sprinkle 2 cups of bread flour, ¾ teaspoon yeast, and butter or oil on top of the sponge.
    2 cup bread flour, ¾ teaspoon instant yeast, 1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 1 to 4 hours until the sponge is bubbling through the top layer. I use the microwave or oven as a draft-free proofing location – either warm up a cup of water for tea in the microwave or turn on the oven and get it to 80 to 90 degrees. If it’s in the oven just be careful not to pre-heat the oven for some other reason!
  • Mix in the mixer on low speed. When it starts to come together, move to the hook. It should be slightly sticky – add a sprinkle of more water or flour a bit at a time as needed.
  • Add the salt and then mix on medium low speed for 8 minutes.
    1 teaspoon salt
  • Cover the mixing bowl again with plastic wrap, put it in your safe place, and let dough rise until doubled.
  • Butter or oil a 9 by 5 loaf pan (I use butter because I find it’s easier to get the baked loaf to release). Shape into a loaf (see link below) and let rise in its happy place until the bread has risen about an inch over the side of the pan.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until the internal temp is 195F and a thump on the bottom gives a hollow sound.


Calories: 82kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 122mg | Potassium: 31mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 18IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.4mg
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